Biblical Archaeology Review 29:2, March/April 2003
One if by Sea…Two if by Land: How Did the Philistines Get to Canaan?

How Did the Philistines Get to Canaan? Two: by Land

The Trek Through Anatolia Followed a Well-Trod Route

By Assaf Yasur-Landau

There is much I agree with in the preceding article by my colleague Tristan Barako, including the belief that the seemingly Philistine levels at sites in modern Israel actually represent the remains of Aegean settlers, rather than of an international trading elite, in an age when international trade was at its lowest point in 600 years.

On one important point, however, I depart from Barako. In my view the Philistines, like other Sea Peoples, came from their Aegean homeland primarily by land, not by sea. It is true that since the publication of Trude Dothan’s The Philistines and their Material Culture more than two decades ago, most scholars have tended to support, with minor variations, the view that the Philistines came to Palestine by sea in a mass migration from the realms of Mycenae, in the aftermath of the collapse of Mycenaean culture around 1200 B.C.E. They supposedly came to Canaan from the Aegean region in boats similar to those shown in the Medinet Habu relief of Ramesses III.1

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